US foreign aid excessive, warrants reconsideration

The now Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take measures to reduce the total amount of money spent on foreign aid to other nations.

If successful, there could be a $16 billion, or one-third, reduction in funds to the State Department’s budget, according to Politico.

With the U.S. facing a national debt of more than $14 trillion and government, at all levels, striving to find ways to cut back on spending and increase tax revenue, efforts to reduce unnecessary or questionable foreign aid allocations must be supported.

It would be unwise, though, to totally eliminate the entire foreign aid budget and allocations. There are instances where American foreign aid serves as more than just a way to cozy up to a foreign nations’ leadership.

For example, Pakistan’s government is an ally that’s assisting the U.S government in its fight against extremist elements in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region – against the wishes of many Pakistani nationals – and it would be misguided to jeopardize this cooperation.

But there are many other nations that may not warrant the financial support they receive.

To name a few, in 2009, the last year for which data is available, Kenya received $391 million, Ethiopia saw $441 million, Columbia got $1.229 billion, Egypt was paid $1.734 billion and Israel received $1.992 billion, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 National Data Book.

The amount paid to Russia, a powerful and feared enemy of the U.S. for decades, was $332 million.

To put this in perspective, the aid to Russia could buy $2 school lunches for more than 900,000 public school students for a year.

While helping fill the needs of nations across the globe is noble, it’s also becoming excessively costly and questionable.

As a result of increased globalization, production of material goods – once a bastion of the American economy – has been outsourced to many of the same nations receiving financial aid. Meanwhile, average, hardworking Americans struggle to afford health care, groceries and housing costs.

Limiting the amount of aid sent overseas could help divert funds to initiatives aimed at reducing the social and economic ails that plague millions in the U.S.

Much of the funding sent to foreign nations ends up in the hands of regimes who may be propped up with U.S. dollars and are seen by many as corrupt, unethical and selfish by not distributing the funds to the people who truly need them.

The U.S. can no longer afford to remain as generous with so many of its global neighbors, and political leaders must support efforts to come to terms with this reality.